Bookmark and Share

To honour Mary is to go to Jesus

Pope John Paul II's Catechesis
General Audience, Wednesday, 15 November 1995 - in Italian & Spanish

"1. After following in our previous catecheses how the Christian community's reflection on the figure and role of the Blessed Virgin in salvation history took shape from the earliest times, let us pause today to meditate on the Marian experience of the Church.

The development of Mariological thought and devotion to the Blessed Virgin down the centuries has contributed to revealing ever better the Church's Marian aspect. Of course, the Blessed Virgin is totally related to Christ, the foundation of faith and ecclesial experience, and she leads to him. That is why, in obedience to Jesus, who reserved a very special role for his Mother in the economy of salvation, Christians have venerated, loved and prayed to Mary in a most particular and fervent way. They have attributed to her an important place in faith and piety, recognizing her as the privileged way to Christ, the supreme Mediator.

The Church's Marian dimension is thus an undeniable element in the experience of the Christian people. It is expressed in many ways in the life of believers, testifying to the place Mary holds in their hearts. It is not a superficial sentiment but a deep and conscious emotional bond, rooted in the faith which spurs Christians of the past and present to turn habitually to Mary, to enter into a more intimate communion with Christ.

2. After the most ancient prayer, formulated in Egypt by the Christian communities of the third century, to implore "the Mother of God" for protection in danger, numerous invocations were addressed to her, whom the baptized consider most powerful in her intercession with the Lord.

Today, the most common prayer is the Hail Mary, whose first part consists of words from the Gospel (cf. Lk 1:28, 42). Christians learn to recite it at home from their earliest years and receive it as a precious gift to be preserved throughout life. This same prayer, repeated tens of times in the Rosary, helps many of the faithful to enter into prayerful contemplation of the Gospel mysteries and sometimes to remain for long intervals in intimate contact with the Mother of Jesus. Since the Middle Ages, the Hail Mary has been the most common prayer of all believers who ask the Holy Mother of the Lord to guide and protect them on their daily journey through life (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, nn. 42-55).

Christian people have also expressed their love for Mary by multiplying expressions of their devotion: hymns, prayers and poetic compositions, simple or sometimes of great quality, imbued with that same love for her who was given to men as Mother by the Crucified One. Some of these, such as the "Akathist Hymn" and the "Salve Regina", have deeply marked the faith life of believers.

The counterpart of Marian piety is the immensely rich artistic production in the East and West, which has enabled entire generations to appreciate Mary's spiritual beauty. Painters, sculptors, musicians and poets have left us masterpieces which, in shedding light on the various aspects of the Blessed Virgin's greatness, help to give us a better understanding of the meaning and value of her lofty contribution to the work of Redemption.

In Mary, Christian art recognizes the fulfilment of a new humanity which corresponds to God's plan and is therefore a sublime sign of hope for the whole human race.

3. This message could not fail to be grasped by Christians called to a vocation of special consecration. In fact, Mary is particularly venerated in religious orders and congregations, in institutes or associations of consecrated life. Many institutes, primarily but not only female, include Mary's name in their title. Nevertheless, over and above its external expressions, the spirituality of religious families, as well as of many ecclesial movements, some of which are specifically Marian, highlight their special bond with Mary as the guarantee of a charism fully and authentically lived.

This Marian reference in the lives of people particularly favoured by the Holy Spirit has also developed the mystical dimension, which shows how the Christian can experience Mary's intervention in the innermost depths of his being.

This reference to Mary binds not only committed Christians but also simple believers and even the "distant", for whom it is frequently their only link with the life of the Church. Pilgrimages to Marian shrines, which attract large crowds of the faithful throughout the year, are a sign of the Christian people's common sentiment for the Mother of the Lord. Some of these bulwarks of Marian piety are famous, such as Lourdes, Fatima, Loreto, Pompei, Guadalupe and Częstochowa! Others are known only at the national or local level. In all of them, the memory of events associated with recourse to Mary conveys the message of her motherly tenderness, opening our hearts to God's grace.

These places of Marian prayer are a wonderful testimony to God's mercy, which reaches man through Mary's intercession. The miracles of physical healing, spiritual redemption and conversion are the obvious sign that, with Christ and in the Spirit, Mary is continuing her work as helper and mother.

4. Marian shrines often become centres of evangelization. Indeed, even in the Church today, as in the community awaiting Pentecost, prayer with Mary spurs many Christians to the apostolate and to the service of their brothers and sisters. Here I would especially like to recall the great influence of Marian piety on the practice of charity and the works of mercy. Encouraged by Mary's presence, believers have often felt the need to dedicate themselves to the poor, the unfortunate and the sick, in order to be for the lowliest of the earth a sign of the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin, the living icon of the Father's mercy.

It can be clearly seen from all this how the Marian dimension pervades the Church's whole life. The proclamation of the Word, the liturgy, the various charitable and cultural expressions find in Mary an occasion for enrichment and renewal.

The People of God, under the guidance of their Pastors, are called to discern in this fact the action of the Holy Spirit who has spurred the Christian faith onward in its discovery of Mary's face. It is he who works marvels in the centres of Marian piety. It is he who, by encouraging knowledge of and love for Mary, leads the faithful to learn from the Virgin of the Magnificat how to read the signs of God in history and to acquire a wisdom that makes every man and every woman the architects of a new humanity."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di espressione linguistica francese  

Chers frères et sœurs,

Je salue très cordialement les pèlerins de langue française qui sont présents à cette audience. Pendant leur séjour à Rome, je leur souhaite d’affermir leur foi au Christ. A tous, je donne de grand cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.  

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese  

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to offer a special greeting to the students and faculty from the Franciscan University of Steubenville and its Austrian campus. Upon all the English–speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially those from England, Thailand, Canada and the United States, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ai fedeli di espressione linguistica tedesca  

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüe ich alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher sehr herzlich. Mein besonderer Gru gilt der Gruppe der Katholischen Akademie Hamburg in Begleitung von Herrn Weihbischof Jaschke. Es wird eine Eurer wesentlichen Aufgaben sein, vor allem an der Schwelle des neuen Jahrtausends im Geist der Ökumene zu wirken. Ferner begrüe ich den Chor des Sängerkreises Moers. Euch allen, Euren lieben Angehörigen zu Hause sowie den mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbundenen Gläubigen erteile ich von Herzen den Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di espressione linguistica spagnola  

Queridos hermanos y hermanas,

Saludo ahora con particular afecto a todos los peregrinos venidos a Roma desde Latinoamérica y España. De modo especial a los obispos argentinos que realizan la visita “ad limina” y que participan hoy en esta audiencia, a las religiosas Franciscanas Misioneras de la Madre del Divino Pastor, que han seguido un curso de renovación, a las Hijas de María, Madre de la Iglesia, así como a los grupos de peregrinos mexicanos.

Que María, Madre del amor hermoso, sea para todos los cristianos la Estrella que guíe con seguridad sus pasos al encuentro del Señor. Con estos sentimientos os imparto de corazón mi Bendición.

Ai pellegrini di lingua portoghese

Queridos Irmãos e Irmãs!

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem–vindos! Que a peregrinação ao túmulo dos Santos Apóstolos Pedro e Paulo fortaleça, nos vossos corações, o sentir e o viver em Igreja, sob o terno olhar da Virgem Mãe. Aprendei com Ela a ler os sinais de Deus na história, para serdes construtores de uma nova humanidade. De bom grado, confirmo estes votos com a Bênção Apostólica.

Ai fedeli polacchi

Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów z Polski, Księdza Kardynała Metropolitę Krakowskiego, Księdza Biskupa z Łomży, ks. bpa Jana Szkodonia i grupę kapłanów krakowskich z okazji 25–lecia święceń. Pozdrawiam: pielgrzymkę Akademii Rolniczej z Krakowa, z parafii św. Bartłomieja z Czańca, z parafii Matki Bożej z Rybarzowic, Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. św. Jana Bosko ze Szczecina, z parafii św. Jacka w Glen Head (Stany Zjednoczone); grupę Podhalańskiego Stowarzyszenia Inżynierów i Techników Komunikacji z Nowego Sącza, niepełnosprawnych z Telefonicznej Agencji Informacyjnej z całej Polski, młodzieży szkół średnich z Miechowa i Książa Wielkiego, lekarzy ze szpitala w Wejherowie, pracowników PKP Warszawa–Grochów; grupę turystyczną “Itaka” z Opola i Prudnika, pracowników Przedsiębiorstwa Energetyki Cieplnej z Opola; chór “Credo” z parafii św. Franciszka w Winnicy na Ukrainie; grupę rzemieślników z Wieliczki, a prócz tego innych uczestników audiencji pochodzących bądź z Polski, bądź z emigracji.

Bardzo dziękuję za odwiedziny wszystkim pielgrzymom z całej Polski, w szczególności przedstawicielom Akademii Rolniczej z Krakowa. Dziękuję, że zaśpiewali “Liczę na Ciebie, Ojcze”. Dobrze pamiętam to “Liczę na Ciebie, Ojcze” z oaz, z doświadczeń oazowych. I rzeczywiście liczymy na Ojca, bo mówimy stale “Ojcze nasz”, a to nasze liczenie, ta wielka ufność, jaką pokładamy w Ojcu, niewątpliwie została podtrzymana, pogłębiona przez fakt, że Ojciec dał nam Syna – dał nam Syna, aby nas odkupił.

Z kolei ten Syn miał Matkę. Nasza ufność, zawierzenie Ojcu, stale idzie przez Syna i przez Jego Matkę. To jest główna treść pobożności maryjnej w Kościele, w chrześcijaństwie od początku. Od tej najstarszej modlitwy “Pod Twoją obronę”, która powstała w Egipcie w III w., poprzez różaniec – “Zdrowaś Maryjo”, poprzez wszystkie inne przejawy, jakże liczne i bogate, pobożności maryjnej, a więc sanktuaria, pielgrzymki maryjne, różne formy sztuki kościelnej i religijnej poświęcone Maryi – ogromne bogactwo – my też, nasza Polska, uczestniczymy w tym wielkim bogactwie maryjnej pobożności, maryjnej tradycji kulturalnej.

To jest nasze bogactwo i nasza siła. I dlatego możemy w sposób szczególny na tej drodze liczyć na Ojca, który dał nam Syna przez Matkę. Przez tę Matkę zbliżając się do Syna, dążymy do Ojca. Niech ta polska droga maryjna trwa i umacnia się, żebyśmy nigdy tej drogi nie zgubili, żebyśmy zawsze nią szli nie tylko w tym minionym tysiącleciu, ale także w tym, które się przybliża.

Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

Ai visitatori giapponesi  

Cari pellegrini del Giappone, benvenuti a Roma.

Spero che questo vostro pellegrinaggio romano vi offra una buona occasione per approfondire la vostra fede e vi benedico. Che il Signore effonda in abbondanza la sua grazia su di voi e sui vostri cari.

Rendiamo grazie a Dio!  

Ai gruppi giunti da diverse Diocesi italiane  

Porgo un caloroso benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare ai componenti del gruppo “Amici insieme” di Imola, che incoraggio a proseguire nell’impegno di condivisione e di promozione umana.

* * *

Saluto poi i militari della Guardia di Finanza di Napoli con i loro familiari, come pure i giovani sottotenenti dell’Aeronautica che hanno terminato il corso di formazione.

 * * *

Sono lieto di accogliere il complesso bandistico “Santa Maria degli Angeli” di Cassano delle Murge, accompagnato dal Sindaco e dal Vicario Generale di Bari.

* * *

Saluto inoltre il coro della parrocchia di Vinnitsa, in Ucraina, e i bambini bielorussi ospiti, per iniziativa dell’associazione “Puer”, presso famiglie della parrocchia di san Giuseppe in Grottaferrata.

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e alle coppie di sposi novelli  

Il mio pensiero va ora ai malati, agli sposi novelli ed ai giovani, tra i quali saluto in particolare il folto gruppo dell’Istituto “Capriotti” di San Benedetto del Tronto, augurando a loro e a tutti gli studenti un sereno e proficuo impegno scolastico.

Le ultime settimane dell’anno liturgico ci invitano al senso della speranza cristiana. Prospettiva questa che costituisce un richiamo per voi, giovani, a non “bruciare” le esperienze ma a coglierne sempre il significato e il valore; per voi, malati, ad affrontare le prove pensando che “tutto concorre al bene di coloro che amano Dio” (Rm 8, 28); e per voi, sposi novelli, ad essere ministri di una vita destinata all’eternità.


© Copyright 1996 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana